OLYMPIA — Building fees for every city and county in the state would go up by $2 to help pay for the training of code enforcement officials, under legislation spearheaded by state Rep. Dean Takko, D-Longview.
The proposal comes at a time when the Grays Harbor County commissioners were taking a hard look at its building permit fees to see if they might already be too high and had opted not to increase the fees for the past couple of years. The state already charges a $4.50 fee on each building permit issued by a county or city, plus an additional surcharge of $2 for each residential unit, not including the first, on each building containing more than one residential unit, according to a non-partisan analysis of the legislation.
A public hearing on the legislation was conducted Monday afternoon.
County Commissioner Wes Cormier didn’t testify, but said in an email that he felt the fee increase shouldn’t move forward.
“I think the state should let local municipalities determine how best to fund training for employees,” Cormier said. “I think training for city or county employees is more of a local administrative decision.”
The state Office of Financial Management has projected as much as $200,000 could be generated through the fee increase for a total of $2 million collected over the next 10 years.
The legislation calls for the creation of a uniform training program through a new code officials apprenticeship program.
“Statewide training for code officials is an essential element in the health and vitality of the state’s construction industry,” the text of the bill states. “The recent downturn in the economy has resulted in staff reductions in many local code enforcement offices. With the expected retirement of other senior code officials, there will be a substantial need for training of new code officials as well as continuing training for existing officials.”
“As the economy of the state of Washington improves, it is imperative to have well-trained building inspectors throughout our communities in order to assure timely and consistent inspections so that our construction economy can recover at the most expeditious rate.”